Older adults are frequent users of complementary and alternative medicine, also known as CAM, which can include products such as vitamins and herbal supplements, and practices such as chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, meditation and massage. According to a new nationwide government survey, 41 percent of adults in the United States aged 60-69 use some form of CAM. They and other consumers can learn about these approaches in “Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” the latest topic on NIHSeniorHealth, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Web site designed especially for older adults.
“CAM covers a wide range of therapies and practices not currently considered part of conventional medicine. Thus, it’s important to be well informed if you are considering using any,” says Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the NIH, which developed the topic. “It’s also important to inform your health care provider about any CAM therapies you may use.”
Older adults who go to http://nihseniorhealth.gov/cam/toc.html  will find easy-to-understand information on the basics of CAM, as well as useful tips on how to be an informed consumer, choose a CAM practitioner and talk candidly with their doctor about CAM use.
One of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, older Americans increasingly turn to the Web for health information. In fact, 68 percent of online seniors look for health and medical information when they go on the Web. NIHSeniorHealth is a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The site is based on the latest research on cognition and aging. It features short, easy-to-read segments of information that can be accessed in a number of formats, including various large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos, and an audio version. Additional topics coming soon to the site include dry eye and substance abuse among older adults.
The NCCAM explores complementary and alternative medical practices in the context of rigorous science, trains CAM researchers, and disseminates authoritative information to the public and professionals through its Web site (www.nccam.nih.gov ) and clearinghouse (1-888-644-6226).
Located at the NIH in Bethesda, Md., the NLM is the world's largest library of the health sciences and collects, organizes, and makes available biomedical science information to scientists, health professionals, and the public. For more information, visit the Web site at www.nlm.nih.gov .
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people. For more information on research and aging, go to www.nia.nih.gov .
The NIH—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov .